Elephant Research Data

Researchers, students and trained volunteers from AERU collect several different types of behavioural and/or activity data, almost on a daily basis. These include projects such as activity budgets, herd activity, nearest neighbour, self-directed and stereotypic behaviour assessments, tourist studies, as well as boma observations

Behavioural data is recorded according to an ethogram developed specifically for KEP and similar captive elephant facilities. This ethogram has been compiled using behaviours that have been recorded for both wild and zoo elephants. These data have several different uses, from both a management and academic perspective.

In addition to the research guiding our day to day, and long term, management at the park, our data also contributes to ‘academic understanding’; the deeper understanding of not only elephants, but the clearer understanding of certain behaviour processes, which could even be translated to other species (e.g. those with similar social systems). This could improve the welfare of not only our elephants at Knysna Elephant Park and our partner facilities, but captive elephants across the world. Some aspects can even feed into comparing wild/captive elephants, and may even contribute to conservation.

We record and monitor a multitude of different state and event behaviours. By monitoring these different behavioural aspects of elephant biology, we can compile a varied number of assessments relevant to elephant husbandry, welfare and research.